A design concept for the pedestrian bridge at the Downtown East LRT platform. Credit: File photo

A design concept for the pedestrian bridge at the Downtown East LRT platform. Credit: File photo

Met Council OKs Vikings stadium pedestrian bridge

The $9.65 million project created controversy due to a rising price tag.

The Metropolitan Council approved a $9.65 million pedestrian bridge that would link the new U.S. Bank Stadium to the Downtown East LRT station when it opens in 2016. 

The Met Council committed to pay $4 million for the project and the team will pitch in up to $6 million, which will be paid back with 90 percent of the advertising revenue from the Downtown East LRT station over 30 years. The council will get the remaining 10 percent of the revenue, estimated to be $310,000 annually.

The project would give thousands of Vikings fans passage over LRT tracks as they leave the $1.1 billion stadium, estimated to host over 400 events a year.

Council members reluctantly approved the controversial project, which has seen an incrementally growing price tag in recent months. Council Member Gail Dorfman said under the deal, the team’s contribution is more like a loan than a real commitment. 

“Not only is this a bad investment, and I can think of better uses for our public dollars than subsidizing the Vikings, but it’s a really good deal for the Vikings. They are in control and we take all the risk,” she said at the Nov. 18 meeting.

Council Member Jennifer Munt agreed there are better uses of taxpayer dollars.

“This is an unconscionable use of our limited transit capital at a time when we’ve got transit customers who are waiting 365 days a year without safe, clean bus shelters. I can’t support something like this,” she said.

Other members stressed the public safety risks. Council Member Edward Reynoso said a situation with trains so close to the stadium and potentially inebriated fans is an “accident waiting to happen.”

“This is about safety. Safety isn’t an option. It’s paramount,” he said. 

Chair Adam Duininck said that though he thought the pedestrian bridge was a bad idea as a council member, a safer passage could attract a larger ridership to the light rail. 

St. Paul-based LS Black Constructors won the bid for the project. Of the 19 qualified contractors who reviewed the council’s invitation for bids, only two submitted bids. 

The pedestrian bridge still needs approval as part of the Met Council’s capital budget, which will be taken up Dec. 9.